Pismo Beach asks public for input on use of Shell Beach mansion

The Chapman House overlooks the Pacific Ocean in Shell Beach.
The Chapman House overlooks the Pacific Ocean in Shell Beach. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Pismo Beach is moving ahead with plans to accept ownership of a landmark oceanfront mansion in Shell Beach.

The City Council held a workshop Tuesday to get public input on how the estate should be used and managed. The public is invited to a second meeting with city planning staff set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Pismo Beach Veterans Hall at 230 Leeward Ave.

“Not taking the property is not an option the council is considering,” said Carolyn Johnson, city planning manager. “They want a long-range plan outlining what will happen to the property.”

The council is expected to vote to formally accept the property at its Dec. 3 meeting.

The late Clifford Chapman willed the English Tudor-style mansion at 1243 Ocean Blvd. to the city upon his death in 2012. It covers an acre and a half and is valued at nearly $17 million. The property includes a windmill, lighthouse, pavilion, koi pond and gardens.

The home was built in 1930 and Chapman, who owned Marshall’s Jewelers in San Luis Obispo for nearly four decades, bought it in 1963. He often opened the house for fundraisers benefitting local charities and arts organizations.

“This is a wonderful legacy for the community,” Johnson said. “It’s just a treasure.”

The city will continue using the property for a variety of public and private events and fundraisers. This means that guidelines for use of the estate need to be developed.

“We really want to get the neighborhood’s feedback,” Johnson said. “We want the neighbors to continue to be able to enjoy the quiet of the neighborhood.”

Another consideration is the continued use of the property by Chapman’s partner, Gene “Don” Shidler. Chapman gave Shidler the right to live there for as long as he wants.

“The council is very aware that Mr. Shidler was his life partner,” she said. “That’s definitely a strong consideration in this whole discussion.”

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